Heavy metal is not just music

Staff Writer
Woodford Times
Austin Langewisch kneels next to an art project he and two other MTHS students created. It won Best of Show in 3-D art at the Mid-Illini Art Show.

When Ali Helton, a Metamora Township High School student who loves art, walked into the welding class at MTHS she had no idea the work that would result from her melding of art and welding would result in a prize at the Mid-Illini Art Show.

And, Austin Langewisch, a student who loves welding and only took art because it was required to graduate walked away from the art show last week with the Best of Show prize in 3-D art. The award was shared with Brett and Ryan Fitzgerald, who were not present at the show.

In their wake were teachers and administrators thrilled at the outcome.

Thrilled students

“I’m in all the welding and auto classes. That’s what I like. I had to take art. Mrs. (Chris) Mangold got me in this class and it went pretty well,” Langewisch said. “I have no clue how this happened. It was a combination of ideas among all of us.”

Langewisch, who said art had never interested him before, is something he plans to pursue further in the medium of metal.

“I love it that we got Best of Show,” he said at the opening reception of the art show March 16. “I didn’t know until a short time ago.”

Helton, who has been involved with art for years worked in metal and welding for the first time this year.

As a result, she took home a merit award for her piece,”Old Man Sun.”

She said Mangold approached her about trying the class.

“I ended up liking it a lot. I’m really excited and proud I went this far. I never expected to go this far,” Helton said.

“I’m more of a 3-D artist. I like clay and sculpting. I would love to do more with metal. I have tons of ideas.”

Excited educators

Kerwin Brown, the MTHS welding instructor, stood with his mouth wide open as he realized four of his students had captured a couple of the top art prizes in the show.

Brown kept walking back and forth between the works of Helton, Langewisch and the Fitzgeralds.

“I’m so proud. I’m bursting with pride,” Brown said.

He said it was so exciting for him to see students exploring new avenues of education and expression they had not thought of before.

As MTHS Principal Randy Toepke wandered around the show he was also smiling.  

“It’s pretty obvious MTHS has been well-represented. I’m impressed,” he said.

The competition pitted MTHS students against students from Pekin, Canton, Dunlap, East Peoria, Washington and Morton.

“This reinforces the idea that the fine arts and vo-tech education belong in high school,” Toepke said.

Mangold was no less excited.

“I am so proud of all the students, no matter what medium they worked in. They have all done a great job,” he said.

But, the real excitement came from the awards in metal.

The class combining art and welding had been a dream for her.

The awards were vindication.

“I hope everyone learns from this that it takes more than a pencil and paper to create a good well-rounded student. MTHS has done a good job of keeping the fine arts up front in the curriculum. Mr. Maurer (MTHS superintendent) and Mr. Toepke (MTHS principal) understand how important it is.”